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Production Rules

1. Nonpast Indicative

Present Indicative

Production Rules:

 

Plain Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

 

[

-stem]

[ -stem] + [i-stem] + masu

[ -stem] + [a-stem] + nai

[ -stem] + [i-stem] + masen

Rule

[u-stem]

Meaning

X [does], X will [do]

X doesn't [do], X will not [do]

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

taberu (to eat)

taberu

tabemasu

tabenai

tabemasen

hanasu (to speak)

hanasu

hanashimasu

hanasanai

hanashimasen

aruku (to walk)

aruku

arukimasu

arukanai

arukimasen

oyogu (to swim)

oyogu

oyogimasu

oyoganai

oyogimasen

yobu (to call)

yobu

yobimasu

yobanai

yobimasen

nomu (to drink)

nomu

nomimasu

nomanai

nomimasen

shinu (to die)

shinu

shinimasu

shinanai

shinimasen

tsukuru (to make)

tsukuru

tsukurimasu

tsukuranai

tsukurimasen

matsu (to wait)

matsu

machimasu

matanai

machimasen

arau (to wash)

arau

araimasu

arawanai

araimasen

Usage Notes:

2.

Be sure to draw the distinction between habitual and progressive action. "I am eating" (that is, "I am in the process of eating right now") is expressed by the progressive form in Japanese, as in English. Many verbs in Japanese, however, also have an "instantaneous" quality about them, and in those cases the Japanese conceptualize a current condition as the progressive continuation of a previous change of state. Thus "I know" is not "shiru", but "shitte iru". That is, at some point in the past, I changed state from not knowing something to having learned about it, and I progressively continue to be in that state. Quite a few verbs in Japanese are like this.

2.

Past Indicative

Past Indicative

Production Rules:

 

Plain

Polite

   

Affirmative

Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

   

[ -stem] +

[ -stem] + [a-stem] + nakatta

[ -stem] + & [i-stem] + masen & deshita

[

-stem]

[i-stem] + mashita

Rule

[ta-stem]

Meaning

X [did]

 

X didn't [do]

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain

Polite

   

Affirmative

Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

     

 

taberu (to eat)

tabeta

tabemashita

tabenakatta

tabemasen deshita

hanashita

hanashimashita

hanasu (to

speak)

hanasanakatta

hanashimasen

deshita

     

 

aruku (to walk)

aruita

arukimashita

arukanakatta

arukimasen deshita

oyoida

oyogimashita

oyogimasen deshita

oyogu (to

swim)

oyoganakatta

     

 

yobu (to call)

yonda

yobimashita

yobanakatta

yobimasen deshita

nomu (to drink)

nonda

nomimashita

nomimasen deshita

nomanakatta

     

 

shinu (to die)

shinda

shinimashita

shinanakatta

shinimasen deshita

tsukutta

tsukurimashita

tsukuru (to

make)

tsukuranakatta

tsukurimasen

deshita

     

 

matsu (to wait)

matta

machimashita

matanakatta

machimasen deshita

     

 

arau (to wash)

aratta

araimashita

arawanakatta

araimasen deshita

3.

Volitional

Volitional

Production Rules:

 

Plain

     

Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

 

[

-stem]

[ -stem] + [i-stem] + mashou

Ichidan: [root] + [root] + mai

[ -stem] + [i-stem] + masumai

Rule

[o-stem]

Godan: [ -stem] + [u-stem] + mai

Meaning

I will [do]; Let's [do]

I will not [do]

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

taberu (to eat)

tabeyou

tabemashou

tabemai

tabemasumai

hanasu (to speak)

hanasou

hanashimashou

hanasumai

hanashimasumai

aruku (to walk)

arukou

arukimashou

arukumai

arukimasumai

oyogu (to swim)

oyogou

oyogimashou

oyogumai

oyogimasumai

yobu (to call)

yobou

yobimashou

yobumai

yobimasumai

nomu (to drink)

nomou

nomimashou

nomumai

nomimasumai

shinu (to die)

shinou

shinimashou

shinumai

shinimasumai

tsukuru (to make)

tsukurou

tsukurimashou

tsukurumai

tsukurimasumai

matsu (to wait)

matou

machimashou

matsumai

machimasumai

arau (to wash)

araou

araimashou

araumai

araimasumai

Usage Notes:

The negative forms of the volitional are relatively rare, although they are occasionally heard. They convey a very strong intention not to do something, or intention to not let something happen.

The use of this form as a presumptive ("probably [does]") is outmoded. The affirmative forms are used as either an expression of personal volition such as "I think I'll eat something", or "I will go now", or an inclusive command/suggestion of the "let's do it" variety.

4. Past Volitional

Past Volitional (See Usage Notes)

Production Rules:

 

Plain

     

Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

Rule

[ -stem] + [ta-stem] + rou

[ -stem] + [i-stem] + mashitarou

[ -stem] + [a-stem] + nakattarou

[ -stem] + & [i-stem] + masen & deshitarou

Meaning

probably [did]; probably has/had [done]

probably didn't [do]; probably hasn't/hadn't [done]

Notice that all of these are the Past Indicative with "-rou" tacked onto the end.

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain

     

Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

       

taberu (to eat)

tabetarou

tabemashitarou

tabenakattarou

tabemasen

deshitarou

       

hanasu (to

speak)

hanashitarou

hanashimashitarou

hanasanakattarou

hanashimasen

deshitarou

       

aruku (to

walk)

aruitarou

arukimashitarou

arukanakattarou

arukimasen

deshitarou

       

oyogu (to

swim)

oyoidarou

oyogimashitarou

oyoganakattarou

oyogimasen

deshitarou

       

yobu (to call)

yondarou

yobimashitarou

yobanakattarou

yobimasen

deshitarou

       

nomu (to

drink)

nondarou

nomimashitarou

nomanakattarou

nomimasen

deshitarou

       

shinu (to die)

shindarou

shinimashitarou

shinanakattarou

shinimasen

deshitarou

       

tsukuru (to

make)

tsukuttarou

tsukurimashitarou

tsukuranakattarou

tsukurimasen

deshitarou

       

matsu (to

wait)

mattarou

machimashitarou

matanakattarou

machimasen

deshitarou

       

arau (to

wash)

arattarou

araimashitarou

arawanakattarou

araimasen

deshitarou

Usage Notes:

These forms are actually not a volitional, but an outdated presumptive. They are the past counterparts of the volitional forms, however. They are exceedingly rare, and "deshitarou" may not even be commonly recognized. Forget you ever even saw them, and learn the forms in the Past Presumptive section instead.

5.

Presumptive

Presumptive

Production Rules:

 

Plain

     

Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

Rule

[ -stem] & [u-stem] & darou

[ -stem] & [u-stem] & deshou

[ -stem] + & [a-stem] + nai & darou

[ -stem] + & [a-stem] + nai & deshou

Meaning

X probably [does], X probably will [do]

X probably doesn't [do], X probably won't [do]

Notice that these are the plain forms of the nonpast indicative with the plain presumptive auxiliary "darou" or the polite presumptive auxiliary "deshou".

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain

Polite

   

Affirmative

Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

   

tabenai deshou

taberu (to eat)

taberu darou

taberu deshou

tabenai darou

hanasu darou

hanasu deshou

hanasanai deshou

hanasu (to

speak)

hanasanai darou

     

arukanai deshou

aruku (to walk)

aruku darou

aruku deshou

arukanai darou

oyogu darou

oyogu deshou

oyoganai deshou

oyogu (to

swim)

oyoganai darou

     

yobanai deshou

yobu (to call)

yobu darou

yobu deshou

yobanai darou

nomu (to drink)

nomu darou

nomu deshou

     

nomanai darou

nomanai deshou

     

shinanai deshou

shinu (to die)

shinu darou

shinu deshou

shinanai darou

     

tsukuranai deshou

tsukuru (to

make)

tsukuru darou

tsukuru deshou

tsukuranai

darou

     

matanai deshou

matsu (to wait)

matsu darou

matsu deshou

matanai darou

     

arawanai deshou

arau (to wash)

arau darou

arau deshou

arawanai darou

6. Past Presumptive

Past Presumptive

Production Rules:

 

Plain

Polite

   

Affirmative

Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

Rule

[ -stem] & [ta-stem] & darou

[ -stem] & [ta-stem] & deshou

[ -stem] + & [a-stem] + nakatta & darou

[ -stem] + & [a-stem] + nakatta & deshou

Meaning

X probably [did], X probably has/had [done]

X probably didn't [do], X probably hasn't/hadn't [done]

Notice that these are the plain forms of the past indicative with the plain presumptive auxiliary "darou" or the polite presumptive auxiliary "deshou".

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain

Polite

   

Affirmative

Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

tabeta darou

tabenakatta darou

tabenakatta deshou

taberu (to

eat)

tabeta deshou

hanasu (to

hanashita

speak)

darou

hanashita

hanasanakatta

hanasanakatta

   

deshou

darou

deshou

aruita darou

arukanakatta darou

arukanakatta deshou

aruku (to

walk)

aruita deshou

     

oyoganakatta deshou

oyogu (to

swim)

oyoida darou

oyoida deshou

oyoganakatta

darou

   

yobanakatta darou

yobanakatta deshou

yobu (to call)

yonda darou

yonda deshou

nonda darou

nomanakatta darou

nomanakatta deshou

nomu (to

drink)

nonda deshou

   

shinanakatta darou

shinanakatta deshou

shinu (to die)

shinda darou

shinda deshou

     

tsukuru (to

make)

tsukutta darou

tsukutta deshou

tsukuranakatta

darou

tsukuranakatta

deshou

matta darou

matanakatta darou

matanakatta deshou

matsu (to

wait)

matta deshou

aratta darou

arawanakatta darou

arawanakatta deshou

arau (to

wash)

aratta deshou

7.

Continuative/(-te Form)

 

Continuative / -te Form

Production Rules:

 

Plain

Polite

1st Plain

2nd Plain

 

Affirmative

Affirmative

Negative

Negative

Polite Negative

   

[ -stem] +

[ -stem] +

[ -stem] + [a-stem] + nakute

[ -stem] + & [i-stem] + masen & de

[

-stem]

[i-stem] + mashite

& [a-stem] + nai & de

Rule

[te-stem]

Meaning

[doing] (see notes)

not [doing] (see notes)

 

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain

Polite

1st Plain

2nd Plain

Polite

Affirmative

Affirmative

Negative

Negative

Negative

tabete

tabemashite

tabenai de

tabenakute

taberu (to

eat)

tabemasen de

         

hanasu (to

speak)

hanashite

hanashimashite

hanasanai de

hanasanakute

hanashimasen

de

aruite

arukimashite

arukanai de

arukanakute

aruku (to

walk)

arukimasen de

         

oyogu (to

swim)

oyoide

oyogimashite

oyoganai de

oyoganakute

oyogimasen

de

   

yobanai de

yobanakute

yobu (to

call)

yonde

yobimashite

yobimasen de

nonde

nomimashite

nomanai de

nomanakute

nomu (to

drink)

nomimasen de

       

shinu (to

die)

shinde

shinimashite

shinanai de

shinanakute

shinimasen de

         

tsukuru

(to make)

tsukutte

tsukurimashite

tsukuranai

de

tsukuranakute

tsukurimasen

de

         

matsu (to

wait)

matte

machimashite

matanai de

matanakute

machimasen

de

arau (to

aratte

araimashite

arawanai de

arawanakute

wash)

araimasen de

Usage Notes:

The -te form has many uses in Japanese, but it is fundamentally an incomplete form on its own. Often it is used alone where "kudasai" would be expected to follow to make a request, or because of its continuative use, used to end a sentence where the speaker is really

leaving the thought trailing off at the end. These are grammatically incomplete. The -te form requires a main verb to complete its meaning.

8.

Imperative

Imperative

Production Rules:

 

Plain Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Affirmative

Polite Negative

 

Ichidan: [root] + [root] + ro

     

Rule

Ichidan: [root] + [root] + yo

[ -stem] & [u-stem] & na

[ -stem] + [i-stem] + nasai

[ -stem] + & [i-stem] + nasaru & na

Godan: [ -stem] [e-stem]

Meaning

[do]!

don't [do]!

[do]

don't [do]

Inflection Examples:

 

Abrupt

Abrupt

Plain

Plain Negative

Affirmative

Negative

Affirmative

taberu (to eat)

tabero / tabeyo

taberu na

tabenasai

tabenasaru na

hanase

hanasu na

hanashinasai

hanasu (to

speak)

hanashinarasu

na

aruku (to walk)

aruke

aruku na

arukinasai

arukinasaru na

oyogu (to swim)

oyoge

oyogu na

oyoginasai

oyoginasaru na

yobu (to call)

yobe

yobu na

yobinasai

yobinasaru na

nomu (to drink)

nome

nomu na

nominasai

nominasaru na

shinu (to die)

shine

shinu na

shininasai

shininasaru na

tsukuru (to

tsukure

tsukuru na

tsukurinasai

tsukurinasaru na

make)

       

matsu (to wait)

mate

matsu na

machinasai

machinasaru na

arau (to wash)

arae

arau na

arainasai

arainarasu na

Usage Notes:

For imperatives, "polite" is a relative term. Note that you cannot politely command someone of equal or higher status. The plain forms here are really quite abrupt, apt to be heard in emergency situations or when emotions are running high, but they might also be encountered from a clear superior to an inferior. The "polite" forms also generally require a superior-inferior relationship, but are more gentle, and would be used, for instance, from a mother to her child, or from an older sibling to a younger one. There are exceptions to these restrictions, especially in emotional situations, or differences in what is tolerated from intimates.

In any polite conversation, if an imperative is called for, the request forms should be used instead.

Note that the ichidan imperative ending in -yo is an older, more literary form not likely to be heard in conversation. It might be found in textbooks (instructions for exercises, for example), on tests, and so forth.

9.

Request

Request (Polite "Imperative")

Production Rules:

 

Polite

       

Affirmative

(1)

Polite

Negative

Polite

Affirmative (2)

Honorific

Affirmative

Honorific

Negative

Rule

[ -stem] & [te-stem] & kudasai

[ -stem] + & [a-stem] + nai & de kudasai

+ [ -stem] & o + [i-stem] & kudasai

+ [ -stem] & o + [i-stem] & nasaimase

+ [ -stem] & o + [i-stem] & nasaimasu na

Meaning

please [do]

please don't

please [do]

please [do]

please don't

[do]

[do]

Inflection Examples: Polite Polite Polite Honorific Honorific Affirmative Affirmative Negative Affirmative
Inflection Examples:
Polite
Polite
Polite
Honorific
Honorific
Affirmative
Affirmative
Negative
Affirmative
Negative
(1)
(2)
   

 

kaeru (to

change)

kaete kudasai

kaenai de

kudasai

okae kudasai

okae

nasaimase

okae

nasaimasu na

 

hanasu (to

speak)

hanashite

kudasai

hanasanai de

kudasai

ohanashi

kudasai

ohanashi

nasaimase

ohanashi

nasaimasu na

   

 

aruku (to

walk)

aruite kudasai

arukanai de

kudasai

oaruki kudasai

oaruki

nasaimase

oaruki

nasaimasu na

 

oyogu (to

swim)

oyoide

kudasai

oyoganai de

kudasai

ooyogi

kudasai

ooyogi

nasaimase

ooyogi

nasaimasu na

   

 

yobu (to

call)

yonde kudasai

yobanai de

kudasai

oyobi kudasai

oyobi

nasaimase

oyobi

nasaimasu na

   

 

nomu (to

drink)

nonde kudasai

nomanai de

kudasai

onomi kudasai

onomi

nasaimase

onomi

nasaimasu na

shinu (to

die)*

shinde kudasai

shinanai de

oshini kudasai

N/A

oshini

kudasai

nasaimasu na

 

tsukuru (to

make)

tsukutte

kudasai

tsukuranai de

kudasai

otsukuri

kudasai

otsukuri

nasaimase

otsukuri

nasaimasu na

   

matsu (to

wait)

matte kudasai

matanai de

kudasai

omachi

kudasai

omachi

nasaimase

omachi

nasaimasu na

   

 

arau (to

wash)

aratte kudasai

arawanai de

kudasai

oarai kudasai

oarai

nasaimase

oarai

nasaimasu na

* It is difficult to imagine many situations in which a request to die would be considered polite, no matter how flowery the language. Take this as a lesson that it's not just the forms but what you say that matters in being polite. The juxtaposition of the politeness and the nature of the request might make for a funny joke, though.

Usage Notes:

The second polite affirmative case is more polite than the first one, and will frequently be heard from service people.

See the notes about honorific forms in that section. The same warning about exceptions applies. For example, in the case of "nomu" the verb "meshiagaru" might be used instead as "meshiagarimase", or even "meshiagatte kudasai" in the right circumstances.

10. Provisional

Provisional

Production Rules:

 

Affirmative

Negative

Rule

[ -stem] + [e-stem] + ba

[ -stem] + [a-stem] + nakereba

Meaning

if X [does]

if X doesn't [do]

Inflection Examples:

 

Affirmative

Negative

taberu (to eat)

tabereba

tabenakereba

hanasu (to speak)

hanaseba

hanasanakereba

aruku (to walk)

arukeba

arukanakereba

oyogu (to swim)

oyogeba

oyoganakereba

yobu (to call)

yobeba

yobanakereba

nomu (to drink)

nomeba

nomanakereba

shinu (to die)

shineba

shinanakereba

tsukuru (to make)

tsukureba

tsukuranakereba

matsu (to wait)

mateba

matanakereba

arau (to wash)

araeba

arawanakereba

11. Conditional

Conditional

Production Rules:

 

Plain

     

Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

Rule

[ -stem] + [ta-stem] + ra

[ -stem] + [i-stem] + mashitara

[ -stem] + [a-stem] + nakattara

[ -stem] + & [i-stem] + masen & deshitara

Meaning

if X were to [do]; when X [does]

if X weren't to [do]; when X doesn't [do]

Notice that these forms are composed of the past indicative plus "-ra".

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain

Polite

   

Affirmative

Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

     

tabemasen deshitara

taberu (to eat)

tabetara

tabemashitara

tabenakattara

       

hanasu (to

speak)

hanashitara

hanashimashitara

hanasanakattara

hanashimasen

deshitara

       

aruku (to

walk)

aruitara

arukimashitara

arukanakattara

arukimasen

deshitara

       

oyogu (to

swim)

oyoidara

oyogimashitara

oyoganakattara

oyogimasen

deshitara

     

yobimasen deshitara

yobu (to call)

yondara

yobimashitara

yobanakattara

   

nomu (to

drink)

nondara

nomimashitara

nomanakattara

nomimasen

       

deshitara

       

shinu (to die)

shindara

shinimashitara

shinanakattara

shinimasen

deshitara

       

tsukuru (to

make)

tsukuttara

tsukurimashitara

tsukuranakattara

tsukurimasen

deshitara

       

matsu (to

wait)

mattara

machimashitara

matanakattara

machimasen

deshitara

     

araimasen deshitara

arau (to wash)

arattara

araimashitara

arawanakattara

12. Alternative

Alternative

Production Rules:

 

Plain

     

Affirmative

Polite Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

Rule

[ -stem] + [ta-stem] + ri

[ -stem] + [i-stem] + mashitari

[ -stem] + [a-stem] + nakattari

[ -stem] + & [i-stem] + masen & deshitari

Meaning

[doing] and

;

things like [doing]

[no info]

Notice that these forms are composed of the past indicative plus "-ri".

Inflection Examples:

 

Plain

Polite

   

Affirmative

Affirmative

Plain Negative

Polite Negative

     

tabemasen deshitari

taberu (to eat)

tabetari

tabemashitari

tabenakattari

   

hanasu (to

speak)

hanashitari

hanashimashitari

hanasanakattari

hanashimasen

       

deshitari

       

aruku (to

walk)

aruitari

arukimashitari

arukanakattari

arukimasen

deshitari

       

oyogu (to

swim)

oyoidari

oyogimashitari

oyoganakattari

oyogimasen

deshitari

     

yobimasen deshitari

yobu (to call)

yondari

yobimashitari

yobanakattari

       

nomu (to

drink)